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Al der and some snow
by scottishkennyg » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:07 pm
Route description: Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil from Culra
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bheoil, Ben Alder
Date walked: 21/03/2013
Time taken: 12.5 hours1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Over the level crossing then off along the smooth road. The top surface was icy in the woods and would contribute to at least five tumbleweed falls. At the wee feeding station a herd of long haired horses were dining alTesco. One of them tried to follow and I thought I was on to a lift.
I continued along to loch Pattack, over the wobbly bridge then onto Culra bothy at 910.
Parked the bike at the bridge and deposited a half can of Pepsi for later.
Heading up the Bealach Beithe I contemplated what route to take. The foul weather contingency was over the pass then up the west ridge right to summit and a return to reassess. As I neared the Coire na Lethchois I crossed the river and over the soft snow to converge with the long rocky spur.
The route was not as exposed as sections of the walk in Glen Affric last week. With full crampons on all the way, progress up the steepening rocky ridge was steady. The views were intermittent and there was constant evidence of snow movement.
There were several narrow corniced sections to negotiate but the snow was consolidated.
At the final section to the summit plateau the snow line movement on the ridge was clearly visible. This was a stark warning to stay well away from all edges.
The spindrift snow and icy wind combined to make blizzard like conditions. It was minus 8 when I left the car I reckoned I was now walking in the equivalent of a large freezer. Not easy to make good progress in these extreme conditions. The summit plateau was vast and easy to get disorientated.
I had taken a direct bearing from the top of the spur and just battled 1.5km over the soft snow for about 40 minutes with many mirages and false dawns until the true top appeared. 1320. The trig point was adorned in frozen snow in the shape of leaves.
Not the place for lunch as even the wind shelter was too exposed. I did not fancy the next section of the walk as it required extreme caution and a watchful eye for any physical land features. I took a bearing direct for Lochan a Garbh Choire (ha ha) what chance did I have of finding that at a mere 100m wide if the massive big loch in the Bealach Beithe at 2km length was not visible. I moved on and tried in vain to keep the rim of the east cliffs in my peripheral vision. Visibility was very poor and the wind and spindrift ice bullets were painful. Progress was slow and the terrain seemed endless.
After some time I was getting anxious as I had not yet found the East flank to the pass. I got a glance through the conditions and took a line of site bearing. Seemed like a good idea but almost a disastrous outcome. I was walking on this line and my sixth sense made me halt, like a horse rearing, and I got a glimpse onto the black rocks immediately beneath me. **** Very scary moment, rapid retreat required. I dug a hole and sat in for a wee while to evaluate the options and re-navigate.
I decided that the safest option would be to take a very wide general south east bearing aiming away from the cliffs to source easier slopes. I inched my way along this route taking very small steps. After some time I noticed a large cairn, which turned out to sat perched on the East top. I re checked the map and aimed SE to traverse down to the pass. (Bealach Breabag) It was now 1520. I was delighted that I now had the less risky option to return down the glen to the bothy.
However the clouds lifted and I could see the light…I loaded up on some sugar and snow, (I could not drink my juice the entire day as the fluid in both bottles had frozen solid within the first hour).
I decided that it might be a long time before I returned to this location so I decided to continue up the ridge to Sron coire na h lolaire. And true to form the winter conditions returned. The cairn provided a fantastic viewpoint. Alas, not the best of conditions for site seeing Prince Charlie’s cave.
I continued N along the ridge. I sat down to put the crampons back on for the negotiating the ridge. My fingers got stuck to the metal of the crampons, it was like getting a plaster pulled off cold skin with hair.
The small corniced section was fine and the climb up the ridge to the summit was sound except for the strong howling wind from the east.
The summit cairn was reached about 1648.
As I sat on the cairn on a quiet moment I felt pins and needles in my lower back. Oh no the voodoo doll again. I checked it out and it was my fleece that had risen and my skin was exposed to the wind and snow. Not good. It was time to get off the summit and out of the winter weather.
I descended the ridge on a north bearing and came across a couple of winter ptarmigans.
I walked to the point where the ridge ended abruptly at Sron Dreineach rocky crag. Then it was a sharp detour down the steep slope to the lower ground. This also provided an ideal opportunity for a controlled bottom slide. Look at the size of that track.
I returned to the bike about 1830 and had a chat with two lads who were on a long weekend. Discussed the walk and the overall ground conditions and bode them well. Deep down I suspected that the weather was set to deteriorate. I found my half can of Pepsi had frozen into a cola ice cube. Pants, as I was gasping.
I jumped on the bike and got going. The track out was even more icy and of course there were some uncontrolled falls. Thankfully the ice and snow helped to ensure no damage to the expensive gear. Just pride, but that comes before a fall anyway. Of course the wind had changed and was now directly into the direction of travel. I broke the casing on my head torch which created a poor connection resulting in an on off light show. Passing the feed station there were hundreds of deer and their green eyes reflecting in the head torch was quite unnerving. I said cheerio to my horse and headed along loch Ericht. One more enforced dismount in the dark woods before returning to the car at 2020. The end of an epic day with Scottish winter conditions providing haunting memories. Thankfully safe and sound with a few near misses and one very real scare.
Surely it must be time for the golf season now.
- Looking NE down glen
by robertphillips » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:05 pm
by weaselmaster » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:06 pm
Apart from the almost going over the edge of the cliffs, a good day out then!
Hoping to be there this coming weekend, so thanks for the weather conditions update.
by wilkiemurray » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:14 pm
- Posts: 1332
- Joined: Jan 26, 2012
- Location: Perthshire
by scottishkennyg » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:23 pm
by scottishkennyg » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:28 pm
by scottishkennyg » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:35 pm
by Scotjamie » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:40 pm
Am away to practice my putting
by quoman » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:11 am
by scottishkennyg » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:17 pm
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